White House required Cabinet to publicly back Paris deal exit: report
The White House ordered members of President Trump’s Cabinet to issue public statements of support after Trump announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate deal last year, according to an E&E report.
Emails, obtained by E&E and published Friday, revealed that White House officials made the ask of all of Trump’s top secretaries ahead of the announcement.
“Cabinet Communicators! Please join our surrogate briefing call at the below number at 1:30pm. We need all Cabinet agencies to prep statements of support for the decision being announced at 3:00pm in the Rose Garden,” a then-White House press aide said in an email to Cabinet officials.
“No exceptions,” the aide added, asking that the statements be sent to the press office for approval.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told E&E that other agencies were asked to comment on the announcement because the decision to withdraw was “an interagency policy process.”
“The Trump administration, after conducting an interagency policy process, concluded that withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord was the best decision for the United States and for the American people. One year later, there has been no change in the U.S. position,” Walters told the publication.
The departments of Education, Commerce and Labor all released statements in support of Trump pulling out of the climate pact, as did the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
“What would his message be?” a USTR staffer asked when the office was asked to provide a statement.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in his statement that the decision would “protect American jobs” and remove “another unfair trade barrier that America cannot afford.”
Emails obtained by E&E also show that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was not aware of the statement made in her name until after it was posted. Her chief of staff signed off on the statement.
One day after Trump’s announcement, DeVos was asked about her statement while at an event at a D.C. charter school.
She repeated praise similar to the previous statement from her office, but said she wanted to focus on the “students and school” at the event she was attending.
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